The Church has always recognized the existence of evil. She proclaims the Savior, Jesus Christ, who leads all men and women to freedom over evil, in all of its manifestations. The Church also has often taken secular holidays and, in a sense, “baptized them”, as a means of infusing the values of the Gospel into the culture.
I know that good Christians disagree with me about participating in Halloween. Christian media is filled with admonitions to utterly reject the celebration of Halloween. The reasons are multiple, but all are rooted in the fact that the contemporary celebrations of Halloween have become infested with darkness. While I respect and understand the position, and even shared it to some degree in years past, I no longer do so.
The term “Halloween” is derived from “All Hallows Eve”, the Christian Vigil of the celebration of the Christian Feast of “All Saints”. I will serve as a deacon at the altar for the Vigil Mass of All Saints day. The beautiful readings at the Liturgy point us toward the perfection of the Saints in heaven and encourage us to become saints in our own journey here on earth – through living the words of Jesus in the beatitudes.
Like many Catholics – and many other Christians – I am concerned that the current approach to the celebration of Halloween, with its undue influence on goblins, ghosts and the demonic, presents potential dangers. All Christian parents and grandparents should act accordingly. However, I suggest that the state of the culture also presents an opportunity for Christians to do what we have always done, live like missionaries in our own culture. Halloween focuses many people on the reality of death – and the questions associated with contemplating death. In so doing it may open people to existential questions concerning the very meaning of life. This presents us with an invitation as evangelizers and missionaries.
The vigil of All Saints came to be known as “All Hallows Eve” or Halloween. While some consider Halloween to be “pagan” in origin, it is actually the eve of this great Christian Feast of All Saints. Many of the customs which surround it reflect the Christian confidence in our triumph over death in Christ and our bold rejection of the claim that evil has any more power over us.
As for the growing pagan practices around us, I am not afraid of them. I will do all that I can to ensure that my grandson, in fact, all of our grandchildren, will be a part of a new generation of those who, bearing the name Christian, do what Christians always do, bring about the conversion of Nations and cultures. I suggest that this is a part of what it means to be a missionary Church. We are all called to be missionaries. We live in a new missionary age. It is time to do what Christians have always done; lead the men and women of this age to living faith and transform cultures by the way we live our lives.
By Deacon Keith Fournier
[A note from Fr. Tom: A good idea for Catholic/Christian parents is to have your children read about or watch movies of Saints and encourage them to dress up like one of them for All Hallows Eve if they really want to join other children. Who knows, maybe the streets will be full of little Saints on this Blessed Night!]